By Josh Jeffrey
MADRID, April 16. SPAIN, host country of this summer's World Championship meet, held its National Championships April 10th-13th in Madrid.
Spanish crowds have always been able to root their home team to magnificent performances, and in anticipation of a great meet this summer on home soil, the swimmers didn't disappoint. No fewer than eight national records were broken, and many more were close to falling.
The first to go was the women's 200m IM when Tatiana Rouba defeated existing record holder Paula Carballido in winning the event at 2:16.41. Rouba's time knocked six-hundredths off the previous standard which was set in 2001. Carballido was second in 2:17.35, slightly off the pace.
Rouba also won the 100 freestyle in 56.56, breaking the Spanish meet record of 56.71 and finishing about a tenth off her own national record (56.45), and the 200 freestyle in 2:01.25.
Both the men's and women's 50 meter freestyles saw new records set as Ana Palomo blasted to a time of 25.69, breaking her former PR and Spanish record of 25.81 set last year in Valencia.
In the men's 50, Eduard Lorente, like Palomo, lowered his own national standard, lopping over a tenth off his former mark of 22.67 from 2001, finishing in 22.53. Lorente would take a second Spanish record in winning the 100 freestyle in 49.97. The former record was held by Javier Botello, set in 2000. Botello finished 7th in the this race.
Erika Villaecija showed bright new hope for Spain in distance events, breaking the national record she had just set two weeks prior in winning the 800 free at 8:38.50. The prior mark was 8:38.95 from a regional meet in Terrassa on March 22nd. Melissa Caballero wasn't far behind in second place at 8:40.15. Both girls were considerably faster than the Spanish national meet record of 8:43.22 from 1996. Villaecija also won the 400 free, just a tenth off her national record, at 4:12.95.
David Ortega broke his Spanish record in the 50m back from last year's European Championships with a time of 25.58, knocking four hundredths off his previous best. Ortega also won the 100 back in a Spanish national meet record of 55.65, edging ever-closer to the 12 year-old national record (54.67) held by Olympic gold medalist Martin Lopez-Zubero.
The men's and women's 50 breaststrokes both saw new national records as Concepcion Badillo tied the record (32.79) set in Terrassa by Cristina Diaz, who finished second in 33.13. The men's 50 breast record was set by David Munoz in preliminaries (28.59), breaking the previous mark of 28.62 by Ismail Garcia last summer in Valencia.
Other fast performances were also achieved by Nina Zhivanevskaya, who is rounding into form quite nicely, posting national meet records of 28.66 and 1:01.40 respectively in the 50/100 backstrokes. Ms. Z was notably absent from the 200 backstroke to complete the trifecta.
Mireia Garcia won the 100 fly in 1:00.53, just seven hundredths off her national record from 2001 Worlds in Fukuoka. In the 200 fly, it was Roser Vives who made the biggest splash, winning in 2:11.05. Second place went to Maria Pelaez in 2:12.51. Garcia (pr 2:09.97 also from 2001 Worlds) was third in 2:13.42 and may miss out on worlds in this event. The 200 fly seems to be the most successful event internationally for Spanish women, in large part due to Maria Pelaez and her surprise win over Ireland's Michelle Smith at the 1997 European Championships in this event. Garcia has also finaled at World Championships and medaled at the Europeans.
Nine people qualified at these championships for Barcelona: Ana Palomo, Tatiana Rouba, Erika Villaecija, Roser Vives, Nina Zhivanevskaya, Eduard Lorente, David Munoz, David Ortega, and Jorge Sanchez.
Spain is holding off on finalizing the team until after France's Vittel Cup, and the City of Barcelona Championships as they're hoping to take between 15-20 swimmers dependent on performance.
Results can be found at: http://www.rfen.es/natacion/madrid/madrid.htm